Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home International A big step for marriage equality in Greece

A big step for marriage equality in Greece

Isabel Bratt discusses the progress that Greece made, allowing same-sex couples to marry and working towards marriage equality.
3 mins read
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Image: Luluka8 via Wikimedia Commons

From the 16th of February, 2024, Greece has become the first Christian Orthodox country to legalise same-sex marriage. Following a 176-76 vote in parliament, same-sex couples will be able to marry, and adopt children.

Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that this revolutionary change would “boldly abolish a serious inequality”, making “people who have been invisible […] visible around us and with them, many children will find their rightful place”. The Prime Minister proudly supported the bill, but many members of his centre-right party disagreed with him, requiring Mitsotakis to rely on the support of opposition parties. A simple majority was needed, in the parliament of 300 members.

The Prime Minister proudly supported the bill, but many members of his central-right party disagreed with him, requiring Mitsotakis to rely on the support of opposition parties

The legislation allowing marriage equality was first proposed in the summer of 2023, by the New Democracy party. The finished bill was introduced to parliament on the 1st of February, and quickly passed. The President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, signed the bill into law, and it took effect immediately. The country has a long history of attempting to allow homosexual or same-sex marriage. In 2008, the small island of Tilos found a loophole in legislation, which would allow civil marriage between ‘persons’, without any reference to gender. The Mayor of Tilos married two same-sex couples, citing the loophole. Unfortunately, the marriages were declared invalid in 2011.

As Greece is a country greatly devoted to conservative religion, opposition to the 2024 legislation quickly spread throughout the country. Especially in Athens, where fierce resistance became protests and rallies. Banners, crosses, and Bibles were paraded through the streets, with many speakers reading prayers and singing Orthodox Christian passages relating to marriage. Archbishop Ieronymos argued that same-sex marriage would “corrupt the homeland’s social cohesion”. However, by a small percentage, the majority of the country seemed to be in favour of the bill, with 52% of the population voting in support of the bill in a wide-spread opinion poll. 33% were opposed, with 10% indifferent, and 5% abstaining.

How will Greece’s allowance of same-sex marriage affect Europe as a continent? Prior to Greece’s legalisation, fifteen of the twenty-seven countries in the European Union had legalised same-sex marriage, Greece being the first country in south-eastern Europe to do so. Hopefully, this landmark event will encourage other countries to follow, as ten European countries currently only recognise same-sex civil union, as Greece previously had. The European Court of Human Rights continues to challenge the lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples, and we can hope that Greece’s support will speed up the process.

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